I have the utmost admiration for you folks (superhumans) out there that work full-time, raise your family, and have clean clothes and a clean house. It’s absolutely incredible. We have a lot of responsibilities and only so many hours in a day to get everything accomplished. In college I couldn’t sit down and focus on my homework until I had my room completely picked up and put away. Now 10 years later I’ve got three beautiful little people that I’m training and managing. They don’t seem too bothered by the piles of laundry, food on the floor, and shoes and coats thrown all down the landing.
All the years that I worked full-time outside of the home I either caught up on things all on the weekend, or I’d try to maintain things throughout the week. Like if I did nothing else on Tuesday but clean the bathrooms after the kids were in bed, great! It took me less than a half an hour and it’d save me from doing it on Saturday. Sometimes I’d pay the sitter a little extra on date night and give her a list of a few things she could clean after putting the kids to bed. It was so worth it and gave them a chance to earn extra.
Now it’s very different. I’ve been a full-time mama at home for a year now. It’s been wonderful and I’ve woken up many days just thinking of how insanely blessed I am to be able to stay home and hang out with my kids. I get to schedule what I want to schedule. I get to say no to things and just enjoy being home together. It’s awesome and it took us many years to get to this point. I also seem to say yes to just about everything… yes to grabbing coffee, yes to helping with watching my friends kids, yes to another meal train, yes to helping with that event next week, yes to helping with music… and I love it all. But I’m left in somewhat of the same predicament as before… When do I make time for those pesky chores?
Proverbs 31; 25-27 (ESV)
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Okay, if you have never read Proverbs 31 you should read the entire thing. It’s not very long but this chic is legit. She’s made me feel like a bum on countless occasions and I don’t know about you but I wake up often feeling idle. However, note that in verse 15 it references her maidens. Listen… from the sounds of it her and her hubby were fairly prosperous and had an entire household that worked together. She doesn’t do every single task within the household on her own, but she does manage it with wisdom. So be encouraged, it’s rough and crazy when you have littles in the house but as they get older it’s your job to train and manage your children to be a part of the team, not waiting on mom for their clean and folded clothes to magically appear in their drawers. I’ve even read lots of advice on hiring or having extra help from family with cleaning or errands during those young years so you can better invest your energies into your family emotionally and spiritually.
Now my girls are old enough to help out a ton. It’s not child abuse. They can clean their room, put away their own laundry, pick up toys and clean up after dinner… and whatever else I need help with at the moment. They’re learning to work together. To jump in and offer support and help. My soon to be 10-year-old does her own laundry and is starting to help prep dinner. It’s time I spend pouring in to them, teaching them, and showing them that work is a gift from God and a gift unto the Lord. It’s a commandment, it’s also a blessing. It’s doing the normal day to day stuff and making the mundane special because we did it together.
Colossians 3:23 “23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
Genesis 2:3 “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
So over time we need to switch from doing the tasks ourselves to being a manager. Yes, that means you’ll spend extra time checking their work, having them redo or go back over directions again. We’ve spent countless times dumping out their laundry baskets and putting clean clothes away that they thought they could hide in the basket instead of folding and putting away. It’s a bonus that we have natural house cleaners so my 5 year old can spray away on those bathroom counters! Part of getting ready for bed is picking up their room. Before they can go outside to play with friends their stuff needs to be picked up. It’s helping them associate that their responsibilities need to be taken care of first before they can go do the extra stuff. Yes, this all is going to take time. Be patient. Be consistent. Keep a healthy balance. We’re training future heroes, leaders, and kingdom warriors.
All the while I still have a week here where I feel like I have it all together, and then another week where I swear I’m going to bag up everything we own and throw it out to the curb! I’ve learned over time now being home that I’m very project oriented. So doing a little house work every day bothers me and it makes me feel as though I’m just continually putting out fires and never finishing anything. So here’s 3 basic ways I’ve helped the Suzy Homemaker in me put on her big girl panties and get things done and feel more accomplished and organized;
1. Schedule the work and rest. I now have a day each week where nothing is planned. Absolutely no appointments, no coffee dates, no business appointments or agendas. We hang out and run any personal errands possibly and do school. That’s it. We rest from the busyness. On other days I actually write down in my day planner what part of the day I want to make calls, take care of bills, or finish up the laundry. If I see how those tasks will affect how the day goes I’m more apt to get up and get started so that I don’t get myself behind, overwhelmed and swamped later in the day. I also incorporate my kids into as much of it as possible. Partly for my sanity because I just can’t do it all on my own anymore and partly because it’s right for them to help now as they’re getting bigger.
2. Invest in 2-3 trusty babysitters. These folks are sweet, trusted people that I know my kids enjoy but I can count on. I use them for date nights, business appointments, or during the day for a couple hours here or there so I can crank away at my To-Do and get a lot accomplished in a couple hours. Focusing my time and energy enables me to be even more efficient and effective. I’m then able to come back and give my intentional, undivided attention back to my beautiful kiddos. And let’s be honest, I’m not the only one who’s found my almost 2-year-old elbows deep playing in the toilet water because I was so focused on the budget/bills spreadsheet. No? Just me?
3. Get rid of the extra. Have you heard of that cute Japanese lady, Marie Kondo? It’s been one of the most emotionally freeing things to finally rid myself of all of the extra stuff we store and save for that infamous, “maybe someday I’ll need this” situation. I like the rule that if you haven’t used it in over a year (gone through all 4 seasons) and didn’t need it, or forgot you had it, then donate to Goodwill, give it to someone else, or trash it. Every time the kids have gotten to a point where they have a hard time keeping up their room – we do a purge. They’re learning to give away things they don’t need or use anymore. I love seeing that generous and giving spirit growing in them.
Last of all, I really do like organizing and getting things done. I just hate being interrupted or starting a million things this week and never completely finishing any of them. It comes with the territory of having a young busy family. So hang in there, Ash. Find what works best for you. Ask for help. Trade some babysitting for help around the house. Ask your friend’s teenager to donate some time for maybe free piano lessons or something. I dunno, be creative depending on how frugal you want to be. And just remember, God will give you direction, help, and wisdom. Just ask.
Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”